Several weeks ago I started actively searching for blogs written by women and minorities to help bring more diversity to the BlueNC blogosphere. This weekend Chris Bowers at MyDD wrote a couple of posts picking up on the diversity and blogs issue. This isn't new for Chris, but I'm glad to see him shed some light on the issue again.
One of the tactics I had planned to use to bring a greater variety of voices to BlueNC was to simply quote and link to blogs written by a diverse group of writers when I was actually writing my own blog posts. If I was writing about free trade, I make an effort to find what other bloggers have to say and I look beyond MyDD, Atrios, DKos and FireDogLake. This has been a lot tougher than you might think.
I decided the quick way to see what I could find in the blogosphere was to do a Google search within blogs. I'm researching a piece on free trade. I couldn't find anything that was obviously written by a woman or minority. (durned anonymity!) I also had trouble finding much that wasn't written by news professionals on their own blogs when I searched the state earned income tax credit. Obviously, the corporate news organizations show up higher on search engines and so do their blogs.
I'm not giving up. I plan to continue searching out a wide variety of blogs when time permits, however I would like for time to permit it more often.
Chris Bowers has this to say:
The thing is that there are many different ways for people to engage in civic affairs, in politics, in media, and in the online world. Even thought the blogosphere is an incredibly important phenomenon to the progressive and political world, the fact is that it is still only one way to engage in civic affairs, in politics, in media and in the online world. The progressive blogosphere is not inherently good to the point where everyone needs to be involved in it. It is not the equivalent of education or voting. There really is no need to, for example, make sure that local community activists working on housing issues are maintaining well read and frequently updated blogs documenting their activities. There are other ways for such activists to get their message out, and there are other ways for those who are part of the progressive, political blogosphere to communicate with activists of that nature. Blogging is one way to make that connection, but it is not necessary that blogging be the way that connection is made. There are other avenues. Not everyone has to blog.
I agree that not everyone has to blog. That hasn't been the point of our outreach here at BlueNC, especially through BlueNC Women on Wednesdays. My/Our purpose has been to make sure that those already in the blogosphere or curious about it and making those first tentative steps toward becoming active, feel welcome and encouraged by the community without regard to gender or skin color.
One of the things that I tend to do is lump blogging and online activism together. Not all bloggers are activists. Some bloggers don't do much beyond their blogging. There's nothing wrong with that, but I know here at BlueNC we've all made an effort to be active in politics outside of BlueNC. What applies here might not apply to other blog communities.
I understand what Chris is trying to say. He doesn't want people to make the liberal political blogosphere out to be more important than it is. It isn't so great and powerful that everyone should feel like they have to participate.
I get that, but I don't think that's the focus of many who discuss the gender/ethnic/racial makeup of the political blogosphere. Blogging is still a relatively new concept. I think it will grow in importance. When it does, wouldn't it be nice if efforts to promote diversity were already well under way instead of waiting until it is a major problem?
Without question, the progressive, political blogosphere should not unfairly exclude anyone who participates within it. Also, without question, efforts should be made to guarantee that those who wish to participate in the progressive, political blogosphere can do so. Further, it is absolutely necessary to the progressive movement that the different communities within that movement are talking with each other, learning about each other, and working together. However, none of this means that every single person involved in progressive politics needs to participate in the blogosphere.
I've not heard anyone promote the idea that everyone needs to blog, so not sure where Chris is coming from on this. I feel if certain voices aren't being heard, we have a responsibility to help amplify them. It can be as simple as quoting someone in a post after hearing them speak at a rally or meeting. It can be as simple as inviting someone to read our site and encouraging them to comment.
I don't feel I have a responsibility to turn everyone into a blogger, but I do feel a certain amount of responsibility to make sure the way is paved for voices to be heard. I know that many of you share that sense of responsibility and have already worked hard bringing new readers and commenters to BlueNC. Thank you.